Thursday, 10 December 2015


Keeping the lamp alight on these damp and coolish evenings continues to bring dividends, albeit in very modest amounts. My latest arrival is a micro-moth which I have long hoped-for, Acleris cristana which I privately consider to be the Lizard Moth.

My own photographs do not do the coining justice, but if you look at the illustrations below from the Micro-moth Bible, you will see what I mean. Each looks, especially the one in the middle, as though I tiny lizard or eft (the appealing word for a baby newt) is crawling up its back.

I very nearly missed the little creature. The eggboxes appeared to be empty and the night had been cold. But just as I was turning over the very last one, it scuttled out from underneath. Micros can be very flighty but I managed to tempt it on to a fragment of eggbox for a brief photo session. Then I tried a sideways on picture and it took off. It must still be in our greenhouse somewhere, but the words 'needle' and 'haystack' come to mind.

I wasn't entirely sure that it was cristana, as the main flying season is in the summer. But the adult moths hibernate over winter and can be tempted out by warmer conditions or, it appears, by very bright lights. A curiosity of this moth is its number of large (relatively speaking) tufts of scales on its wings, a shown in the example on the right in the Moth Bible picture, and just visible in my specimen below. What these are for and why they have survived evolution, scientists do not know, but the fact that cristanas without them are found regularly suggests that, like humans' tails, they may be becoming obsolescent. Cristana is also one of the most variable moths in the UK, with no fewer than 137 different forms described in mothing literature.

No comments: